Theology for Survival: How the Suffering Servant Shuts Down Our Malware

By Morgan Guyton
Some people do theology for survival; others do it for sport. When it’s a sport, one can afford to be objective and logical while appropriately citing the right quota of bible verses and name-checking all the right people in the tradition and the academy. But when it’s survival, you grab hold of whatever word seems to offer life and dare to hope that God is saying it. I cannot theologize outside of my lifelong struggle with childhood sexual trauma, mental illness, and neurodivergence. Given this frame, I have found myself enchanted by the gospels that are preached in marginalized communities, particularly among the the queer Christians who taught me I was beloved.
Because my search for God is desperate, it is also innately subjective and experiential. If I were not a deer racing through the woods in search of water, perhaps I could be objective and rational about my theology. What the gospel means to me is defined by the strange joy I’ve been given often in the context of personal devastation. It’s so much more than “the forgiveness of sins.” It’s the glory of a holy presence that touches me when I pray and miraculously shuts down all the malware running in the back of my mind. I can find plenty of scripture to support me in my journey to escape my malware and deformity, but my starting point is the direct experience of the glory that I’m chasing, not my concern for conformity with scripture or tradition, which seems like the kind of concern that arises when one’s theology is a sport and one is worried about performing it well for his peers.
Morgan Guyton is the director of the NOLA Wesley United Methodist campus ministry at Tulane and Loyola University in New Orleans, LA. He contributes to Red Letter Christians, Think Christian, Ministry Matters, and the Huffington Post, among others.


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